ISBN  978-0-9859468-9-0   $16.00

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Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention                                      - Seth Michelson, editor

Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention is a gesture of hospitality, an invitation to Americans to share in the lives of children who believe in the United States as a land of hope. Because they are deemed " stateless people," by federal law these children are not entitled to legal representation. In an effort to secure their legal defense, profits from sales of the book will be donated directly to a legal defense fund for them.

Many of the English translations of these anonymous originals were begun by Michelson's students at Washington & Lee University in a course entitled Poetry and the Politics of Immigration. The course comprised an undergraduate senior seminar meeting twice a week on campus and once a week in the detention center.

Seth Michelson's most recent book of poetry is Swimming Through Fire (2017). He teaches the poetry of the Americas at Washington and Lee University.

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Excerpts from  Dreaming America  : Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum Security Detention    

Excerpts from Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum Security Detention  


a place the whole world goes
when we dream
and want to see our families happy
but they don't let us reach the border
because we're from other countries
and I ask myself why
if we're all human beings
if we're all the same
don't we have papers too
because we're all in the same world
have the same feelings
though our skin colors may differ
but that doesn't mean we're not the same
it means that in this country in my country
there are lots of recists
to be white, to be black
doesn't means we are
we're equal
we have the same thoughts
the same goal
to walk for days across the desert
called to immigrate


La frontera

un lugar a que todo el mundo vamos
al tener un sueño
y ver a mi familia feliz
pero no nos dejan llegar a la frontera
por ser de otro país
y me pregunto por qué
si todos somos seres humanos
somos los mismos
no tenemos papeles
porque estamos en el mismo mundo
tenemos sentimientos iguales
el color de piel es diferente
pero eso no quiere decir que no somos iguales
es que en este país en mi país
hay mucha gente racista
el ser blanco, el ser negro
no quiere decir
que somos iguales
somos todos iguales
tenemos la misma mente
la misma meta
el caminar días por el desierto
al inmigrar nos agarra


From the Earth

From the earth frew a fruit
so delicious
I paused to wonder,
Who harvested this fruit?


De la tierra

De la tierra creció una fruta,
Tan rica,
Que me puse a pensar,
¿Quién cosechó esa fruta?


Prison or Freedom

I grab paper and pencil,
write what I feel
directly to the prisons of the world,
the tigers are dozing,
the walls have spoken,
my feelings express solitude
and the devil pays me
in violence.

Prisión o libertad

Agarro papel y lápiz,
escribo lo que siento
directo a las prisiones del mundo,
los tigres están tomando siestas,
paredes hablaron,
mis sentimientos expresan la soledad
y el diablo me paga
con lo violento


The Lonely Angel

Suddenly I stop flying,
look around and see things
that break my heart,
I see beautiful things.
Beautiful, but I can't touch them.

I see evil and can't quit it.
It's like my shadow that follows me,
but saddest of all is the lonely angel.
Only because he can't fly.

Because I trusted someone
and as always betrayed him.
Because he trusted someone and was betrayed,
I pity the lonely angel.

I look in the mirror
and see I'm the lonely angel
and am stunned that pity myself.


El ángel solitario

De repente dejo de volar,
veo alrededor y miro cosas
que me parten el corazón,
veo cosas bellas.
Bellas, pero no puedo tocarlas.

Veo maldad y no puedo dejarme de ella.
Es como mi sombra que me persigue,
pero lo más triste es el ángel solitario.
Solo porque no puede volar.

Porque confío en alguien
y como siempre, lo traicioné.
Porque confió en alguien que lo traicionó,
me compadezco con el ángel solitario.

Pero me miro en el espejo
y veo que el ángel solitario soy
y me sorprende con compadecerme de mí mismo.


If a men could...

cry without shame, ask forgiveness,to go herding the dead
without our pride
or ego getting hurt, or if you could say
to yourself I forgive you because
you’ve behaved badly, but
to yourself, because it’s easy
to forgive people of importance to you,
the tricky thing is to forgive
yourself, to say to yourself I forgive you, because
one sees the defects of others,
but to see your own and forgive them
is very hard, but try, friends,
it will be easy in the end.


Si el hombre pudiera . . .

llorar sin pena, pedir perdón,
sin que nuestro orgullo
o el ego se dañaría, o si pudieras decir
a tí mismo te perdono porque
te has portado muy mal pero
contigo mismo, porque es fácil
perdonar personas que te importan
pero el problema es perdonarse
a sí mismo, decirte te perdono, porque
uno mira los defectos de los demás,
pero mirarse sus defectos y perdonarlos
es muy difícil, pero traten compañeros
que se les hará fácil al final.


I Want to Support

I want to support the
poor and end
hunger. I’d like to give
a great place to live
to those
without one, and also
to the animals.


Quiero apoyar

Yo quiero apoyar a los
pobres y acabar con el
hambre. Los que no
tienen donde vivir
quisiera darles un lugar
para desear, y también
a los animales.